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Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What Is It & How Does It Work

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What Is It & How Does It Work
SEO: What Is It & How Does It Work

Seo is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of marketing.

Many business owners and companies don't understand how SEO works or why they even need it.

Better yet, there are a ton who don't even know it exists.

This is why there are tons of agencies that specialise in SEO making millions per year, because they're fulfilling a massive need in the market.

Compared to something like paid advertising, SEO is much more complex, much more time consuming, yet the pay-off is well worth the hassle.

With the ability to drive massive amounts of free traffic to your site, simply by optimizing your SEO, it's definitely something people should pay more attention to.

I, for one, have been meaning to work on my website's SEO for a long time.

However, the reason I haven't gotten to it is mainly because I don't understand much about it.

Whether you own a company, run a blog, a podcast, or anything that requires an online presence, SEO is crucial to your success.

What is SEO?

I've mentioned the word 'SEO' a bunch of times already, but you might be a little confused.

In fact, you're probably itching to click off this article, unless I explain exactly what SEO is within the next few seconds.

SEO, which stands for 'search engine optimization' is essentially exactly what it says on the tin - it's the process of improving your content that appears on search engines like Google, Microsoft Edge, Bing, and so on, in order to rank higher and receive more traffic.

There are many businesses that have managed to master the art of SEO, and drive millions of eyeballs to their site for free, every month.

To amass a similar level of traffic to your site via paid ads could cost, tens of thousands of dollars per month, never mind all the wasted dollars on split testing, and failed A/B experiments.

There are a lot of tools found online created solely for the purpose of helping you understand SEO, and optimize your web pages for it.

The fact that all of these services receive close to 10 million monthly visitors shows exactly how foreign this concept is to a lot of people.

In a world so focused on quick wins and immediate gratification, paid ads have become the pillar of online marketing.

However, those who understand SEO are truly the winners in the end as they're able to harness the power of search engines to drive massive growth to their businesses and web pages. 

How does it work?

Cool! SEO doesn't sound so bad, right?

It really isn't - by the end of this article, you're going to have a crystal clear understanding of SEO and the underlying strategies that can help you get started on mastering your SEO.

But, how exactly does SEO work in the first place?

Simply put, SEO is a set of practices one must act on in order to tell the respective search engine exactly what their web page is about.

Without search engine optimization, it can be very difficult to drive quality traffic to your business.

As a search engine, your job is to direct people to sources that are most likely to benefit them.

If you search for 'the top 5 books all entrepreneurs must read,' you'll expect to find results about business books, not dog food.

If you search for 'How to start dropshipping,' and get results on how to do 100 pushups, you won't be very happy.

As long as we follow the rules of the search engines our web pages are hosted on, we will be rewarded for it.

Why is it important?

Finally, why is SEO so important for your business or website?

To begin with, we've established how improving your SEO leads to higher website visibility on Google and other search engines.

Did you know that websites on the first search engine results page receive almost 95% of web traffic, leaving only a mere 5% for the remaining search result pages?

The higher you rank on the search engines, the further up your website will be, and the more likely people will click on your site over other websites.

This increase in traffic is crucial for business owners and website owners in general.

When you run adverts online, you're essentially disrupting people's online activity, however, when people naturally find you online, they'd have a much better first-hand experience with you and your brand.

These visitors are also much more likely to purchase, they're considered high-quality traffic because they're searching based on intent to buy, unlike stumbling across a Facebook ad which sometimes happens to spark interest.

The reduced spending on advertising gives you leverage over other, less fortunate businesses who need to spend money to receive the same traffic that you're receiving.

Marketing is usually where most businesses spend a ton of money - without marketing, you've got a sinking ship on your hands.

When you don't need to pay a ton for marketing, you're able to freely scale your business knowing where that there's a steady stream of traffic to your website.

How to optimize your SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What Is It & How Does It Work

While it may sound overly complicated, SEO is actually a very simple concept to grasp - it's very logical in the way it works.

The happier you make the search engine, the more they reward you for your co-operation.

Search engines, after all, are machines with powerful algorithms, managing trillions and trillions of data points around the internet, aggregating them, and spitting them out into understandable pieces of information to users.

By optimizing for the search engines, you're helping them pick up the necessary information about you, in order to send the right people to your website.

So how exactly do we do this?

Let's talk about the two main types of SEO - on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO

The first form of SEO is on-page SEO - this refers to the activity that happens on every specific web page of your website.

Under this umbrella, there are a ton of factors that come into play when you're optimizing your on-page SEO.

I'm going to outline some of the most important in this article so that you can start working on your SEO and start seeing noticeable results.

When I write a blog article, the first thing I do is think about the title of the article - this is also the article of the page where the article sits.

However, before we get into the article, there's an element we're forgetting about - the keyword/phrase.

Every article/page on your website will have a keyword or phrase - this will tell the search engine exactly what this page is about so it knows who to show it to.

The keyword is very important because you're going to sprinkle it, naturally, throughout your article.

You may have realised how I've used the word 'SEO' multiple times in this article.

This, although natural, is not a coincidence, I am doing it in order to improve my article's readability as well as its rankability on search engines.

Once you've established your keyword, you must ensure your title contains the keyword you're looking to rank for.

On the topic of titles, it's crucial that you tell search engines exactly which text is in what format.

If you have a heading, it must be in the format, H2.

A title is usually in the format Title/H1 (If I am not mistaken).

Subheadings are a level below that at H3, and so on.

The software I use for blogging makes SEO very simple, instead of choosing H[X], we choose 'title', 'heading', 'subheading', 'text', etc.

Formatting must be very clear in order to improve your content's readability.

When people are on your website, your goal is to keep them on it - low retainment tells search engines that this content shouldn't be shown to more people, and your ranking will drop.

After this, the body of your writing must also contain the keyword, exactly how I'm using my keyword in this article.

I've previously spoken how a good writer isn't someone who knows how to write a Harry Potter novel, but someone who is able to instil something within their readers that they never had before the article.

This, although difficult, comes from consistently writing, and learning about the best writing practices.

One thing you may have realised I do in my articles is write 1-2 sentences, max, per paragraph.

This makes it very easy to read my articles, and even helps the search engines understand the page's content.

Aside from this, I have a ton of internal links in my article to other articles and 3rd party sources.

Spend some time researching the best SEO writing practices to learn about strategies and secrets you may not have known before.

With SEO, you may always uncover something new you never knew before - it's amazing because it's such a simple concept, yet it's a jungle when you really try to traverse it.

The final tip I have for on-page SEO is to do with things that are less visible to the naked eye - meta descriptions and alt texts.

Meta description is the text that pops up underneath your page's title when you're searching on Google.

When someone is debating whether to click on your website or not, they read the title, then the meta description beneath it.

It's important to fully optimize this text, keeping it within 150 characters, while ensuring you're using your keyword.

Similarly, alt text is a short and simple explanation of the images you use on your website - make sure, firstly, that your images have relevant names that relate to your business or the image itself.

Secondly, ensure the image's alt text clearly explains what is happening in the picture.

This makes it very easy to get discovered via Google images, which is a very powerful source of traffic that many people overlook because they don't write alt texts.

That's the majority of the basic concepts regarding on-page SEO, yet there is still more to learn.

Off-page SEO

Next, we have off-page SEO - this refers to everything you do externally, which in turn, benefits your website's SEO.

While on-page SEO is crucial, I would argue that off-page SEO is more valuable and can drive much more traffic to a website when leveraged correctly.

One of the key components of off-site SEO is building your domain authority.

Tools like Ahrefs help you understand your domain authority better and give you suggestions on how to improve it.

Your domain authority is how likely your web page is to rank on search engine pages.

The higher your domain authority, the higher you'll rank, because Google, or other search engines, understand that people know, like, and trust your content.

Unfortunately, the most effective way to build your domain authority is by simply getting backlinks from other high DA websites that are within the same industry as you.

If you're an eCommerce blogger, you'll want to get backlinks from websites like Shopify, Woocommerce, etc.

You'll want to get backlinks from entrepreneurial websites or other high DA websites around online business and eCommerce.

The more backlinks you have, the higher your domain authority will be - it tells Google that your site is trusted by these authoritative websites.

Sadly, not all backlinks are equal.

While a lot of backlinks can be very useful to your business or website, there are backlinks that can harm your traffic - once again, tools like Ahrefs help you detect harmful backlinks and remove them before they tarnish your brand.

Backlinks from spammy websites, for example, is an example of negative backlinks.

There are many ways to build backlinks, some of the most popular is through:

  • Outreach

A lot of what we're about to discuss is going to require outreach.

When you're a small website, looking to build your SEO profile and domain authority, it's difficult to simply get found online.

Instead, you're going to need to actively find those who can help you get seen.

We've already discussed how getting backlinks from high DA (domain authority) websites is effective, however, you'll rarely get a random backlink from them.

Instead, you're going to have to set up an outreach campaign asking them for a backlink.

Remember that whenever you reach out to someone, don't go into it with the intent to take something - instead, give them value first, then at the end, give them a small nudge telling them how your piece of content can help them.

A lot of people will be happy to give you a backlink simply for the kind gesture.

Adopt this outreach strategy for some of the points we're going to discuss below.

If you need more SEO help, I suggest you watch videos from people like Brian Dean.

  • Directory submissions

This involves finding directories of websites within your business' category and submitting your website to that directory.

If you get featured on that directory, you're able to see a big boost in your website's SEO.

  • Guest posting

Guest posting is an old-school strategy, yet one that still works like an absolute charm.

Rather than simply asking for a backlink from other websites, you can, instead, offer to write them a guest post or guest article which, in turn, will net you a few backlinks.

Luckily, there are a ton of outlets that are looking for guest post writers - go on Google and search for [topic] "write for us."

In my case, I'd write - business "write for us" - and I'll get a result of outlets that are looking for guest writers.

Read their requirements, reach out to them, and wait for a response.

From there, write an article for them with natural backlinks to you and your work, then submit it.

The article will belong to them, however, the outcome will far outweigh the time spent writing the article.

  • Social media marketing

I personally don't share my work on social media a lot - the only platform I use is LinkedIn for article sharing.

However, a ton of people, especially if you've already got a following or personal brand, are very successful with sharing their work on social media.

In today's day and age, most of people's attention lies in social media, making it a perfect place to share your work.

Not only that, but you're able to build an online presence on social media when you consistently post valuable content to your audience.

  • Forums/websites

When I first started my blog, the most powerful strategy I used (and still use) is other forums and websites.

Currently, my biggest source of eyeballs and traffic is Medium, I simply reshare my content on there in order to get exposure from a massive community of readers, writers, entrepreneurs, and more.

Not only that, but I've set up a Quora group where I share my articles, a Reddit group to do the same, etc.

There are a ton of places you can find where you can repost your work.

While some might take more effort than others, this simple exercise can get you 100%+ more exposure than if you were to simply post it and forget it.

That's SEO in a nutshell... sort of.

Did you find this article helpful? 

If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments below - let's get some conversations going.

Share this article on social media and with others, let's help more entrepreneurs realize their dreams!

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Till next time,



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